Whichever Comes First

by hellorousseau

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“At its core, the crime is the same.

This time she is shot, not stabbed or garrotted.

This time the small frame is just a bit heavier and the hair is down, not pulled back in braids with a brightly coloured beret.

This time the vaginal swabs will provide proof of rape in the form of seminal fluid.

This time she did not disappear while walking to a library, but to a bus stop.

And this time the dead girl will be a year older, twelve instead of eleven.

But in every important way, it is the same.” (459)

Chapter nine of Homicide was all about repetition.

With the new Andrea Perry case, Simon uses short, simple descriptive sentences to paint a bleak image of the crime scene. Just like when I first read chapter two with the discovery of Wallace’s body, I remember thinking it was a lot drier than the first chapter, almost like a cut-and-paste police report.

Simon takes this tone in the ninth chapter with the discovery of Perry’s body, and uses this repetition to bring back the shock the reader got from the second chapter with the discovery of the little girl’s corpse.

He also uses repetition when talking about the jury members, as it parallels what is talked about in chapter six when Cassidy is testifying in court. In the previous chapter, they discuss the jury process, and talk to a juror after the trial about their final verdict.

“‘What hung you all up for so long?’
The girl shakes her head. ‘A lot of them didn’t case. I mean not all. It was crazy.’
‘They didn’t care?’
‘Not at all.’
‘What didn’t they care about?’
‘The entire thing. They didn’t care about any of it.’

McLarney is stunned.” (304)

In chapter nine, Simon again touches on jury incompetence, this time, using alliteration to drive home his point.

“Juries do not like to argue. They do not like to think. They do not like to sit for hours at a time, wading through evidence and testimony and lawyer’s arguments…
Juries wants to go home, to escape, to sleep it off.” (473)

I found that there was not only repetition from ongoing cases and other parts of the story, but also in Simon’s writing itself. In the beginning of the chapter, especially, when he was describing Edgerton and how he did his job, and near the end of the chapter, too, when Waltemeyer is responding to the junkie case.

“Any man can drink too much and wreck his station wagon… Any man can pick up a woman in a downtown bar.” (518)

“Perhaps it’s because she was young, perhaps because she looks pretty in the light blue sweater. Perhaps it’s because a price must be paid for all this privacy…” (519)

“Only Edgerton would have bothered to clean the blood from the wounded girl’s hands… Only Edgerton could share a smoke with a drug dealer… Only then did he pull the girl down against the brick wall. Only then did he bring out the gun.” (462-463)

“No doubt the same detective scheduled to testify in Both’s court this afternoon just finished his overnight paperwork in time… No doubt he then spent another hour downing four cups of black coffee and an Egg McMuffin.” (469)

“On the stand, the last rule for a homicide detective is that nothing is personal… On the stand, demeanour counts.” (482)

I really enjoyed how Simon wrote chapter nine. It’s use of repetition really engrained the fact that these detectives spend every day tackling cases and coming across issues that are just another version of a previous problem.

Whichever murder comes fist, the detectives learn from each other’s actions and missteps and move forward, making sure not to repeat the mistakes of a previous case.

“For those first moments at the scene, Edgerton tells himself he will not make the same mistakes that he believes are buried in the Latonya Wallace file.” (460)

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